Talented Friends: Hannah McPhillimy

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It’s been an awfully good week for art in Belfast. If you happened to find yourself in the city centre of an evening over the last few days, chances are you’ve come across one or more of your friends dashing about like headless chickens trying to cram two or even three brilliant events into one night. We have the Cathedral Quarter Festival to thank for this. We’ve been spoilt for choice this week. At one point I seriously considered time travel or trying to split myself in two. However, on Friday evening there was only ever one place I was going to be.

I first met Hannah McPhillimy about four years ago. I can’t even remember the circumstances which threw us into each other’s orbit. It’s Belfast we live in, a city so small, it’s inevitable that everyone who should find each other, eventually will. I met Hannah and I almost instantly knew she was going to be an important person in my life. During the last four years there have been innumerable long coffees, adventures with a very heavy keyboard, collaborations, late night chips and a friendship I’ve come to lean upon for so much more than artistic encouragement. Hannah McPhillimy is one of those people who reassure you that the world is basically a decent place. Two years ago we worked together to produce a show and an Ep of music, based on my first novel, Malcolm Orange Disappears. This year, I had the pleasure of writing a short story in response to one of Hannah’s songs, “Ruins.” I feel there may well be much more artistic comings and goings in our future. I’m hoping she takes up the tin whistle, or some instrument slightly lighter than the deadweight keyboard.

Last night Hannah released her new Ep, Wind Machine as part of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival. Redeemer was packed to the rafters and rightly so. In the four years since I first met her, Hannah has grown into herself musically and is now one of the most accomplished musicians and songwriters in Belfast. Her voice has a life of its own, ducking and diving over the beautiful tunes she’s written. It’s a credit to her songwriting ability that I woke up this morning humming songs I heard for the first time last night. Playing with a band of accomplished musicians and singers Hannah’s songs were as lush, as epic and heartbreaking as I’ve ever heard them. There’s an unaffected joy about what Hannah does. She is the same person off the mic as she is performing. It’s very easy to watch a person this comfortable on stage. It’s refreshing to listen to someone singing songs she actually believes in. I’m a little bit biased but if you haven’t been to see Hannah McPhillimy yet you really need to make it a priority. I have a suspicion that she’s not going to be playing to little audiences for very much longer.

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Hannah’s Ep. Wind Machine is available to download now at https://hannahmcphillimy.bandcamp.com/album/wind-machine do it. Your ears won’t regret it.

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